I saw John Cleese’s performance last night at his “A Ludicrous Evening with John Cleese… or How to Finance Your Divorce” tour stop in Copenhagen.
A couple of noteworthy points.
First, the reason he’s doing the tour is that he paid his ex-wife $13 million up-front, and now has to pay her $1 million per year for seven years, for a total of $20 million in divorce settlement. That’s completely ludicrous! And he’s completely up-front about it – he’s doing the tour because he needs the money.
Second, the entire evening was fully scripted and read off a prompter in the back of the 1000-person rooom. He did a good job making the reading come off as lively, but knowing it detracted from the experience for me. Especially seeing how word-for-word it was scripted and how much he stuck with the script.
To his defense, though, as my dad pointed out afterward, he’s a writer first and a performer second, and all of his life his work has always been fully scripted. It’s just the way he works.
Next, Monty Python was done without any marketing types or focus groups or anything. They just wrote shows that they thought were funny. Not surprisingly, I totally agree with that strategy. (He spat on the floor each time he said “marketing people”).
Also, he has a big interest in psychology. Me too. Nice to know. (Turns out he wrote a book called “Families and how to survive them”.)
The show was mostly a humorous recounting of his career, ending with his 1988 movie “A fish called Wanda”. It ends there because, as he said, he hasn’t done anything interesting since. Wow!
All in all interesting, worth experiencing, but it did leave me a bit flat, wanting him to give a bit more of himself.
But it’s probably deep in his british character to hold back. Something he did mention during the show.